Stepping up tech sector in Penticton

Three Penticton technology startups made it through some stiff competition to earn a spot in a new entrepreneurship program.

Three Penticton technology startups made it through some stiff competition to earn a spot in a new entrepreneurship program at Accelerate Okanagan.

Altogether, 10 companies were selected from among 29 applicants to participate in the organization’s newly launched entrepreneurship@AO program. Cadent Computing, MG Electronics and Factor9 Sports, all of Penticton, made it through the application process, which included a competitive “Pitch-Off” round last month to a panel of judges.

Created in partnership with BCIC, the entrepreneurship@AO initiative is designed to attract very early stage technology companies and get them access to Accelerate Okanagan’s incubator programs and facilities for a year, along with access to advisers, mentors and a range of business development programs and critical connections provincially, nationally and internationally.

In addition, the companies will also get access to free shared office space at Accelerate Okanagan’s Innovation Centre in the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.

The Centre of Excellence is already drawing worldwide attention as one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the world and, according to Martin Yuill, marketing director at Accelerate Okanagan, the Innovation Centre has been able to integrate with the advanced facilities the college has put in place.

But the key, Yuill said, is that entrepreneurs using the boardroom, office and other facilities, will be working in a collaborative space with other technology developers and innovators.

“It has a phenomenal effect on generating new ideas. Some of the best ideas come out of the collaborative model of being co-located,” said Yuill. “Different entrepreneurs bring slightly different skill sets. Once you start combining those, you end up with brand-new ideas.”

The three Penticton companies couldn’t be more different. Cadent Computing develops applications for cloud computing, including their WineCellar series of apps for storing, viewing and retrieving information about your wine collection.

And MG Electronics is a repair and service company that does design, research and development for interfacing and special projects. But Factor 9 specializes in the field of training, developing and coaching for triathletes. They’ve begun developing online methods to assess and deliver some of their methodology and evaluation.

“We were very impressed by the quality of the opportunities received,” said Jeff Keen, acting CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “This demonstrates the high level of innovation that exists in the Okanagan technology community.”

While the entrepreneurship@AO program will certainly benefit the companies involved, it also helps fulfill the mandate of Accelerate Okanagan, a not-for-profit group formed in 2010 evolved out of the Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre, an early technology incubator that operated out of the Dominion Radio Astronomy Observatory near Okanagan Falls.

Their mission to increase the number of technology companies that start and grow in the Okanagan by helping to develop and support a vibrant entrepreneurial, creative and innovative technology community. Or, as ORIC founder Peter Haubrich put it, help these entrepreneurs get out of the basement and into the boardroom.

“The entrepreneurship@AO initiative forms part of Accelerate Okanagan’s overall program offering for technology entrepreneurs and startups looking to start, accelerate and grow,” said Keen. “Entrepreneurship@AO will help to strengthen the Okanagan’s position as one of the best places to start and grow a technology company.”